I’m a graduate…again!
I enjoyed graduating for the second time, despite it being the largest and (no doubt) longest graduation ceremony that Aberystwyth University has ever seen. In fact, I enjoyed it more than my Undergraduate ceremony. Why? It was relaxed, I stormed about in my robes because I knew what was expected of me on that day – it was comfortable.
But this term ‘comfort’ is one which I have too easily associated with Aberystwyth. In less than a month, I’ll have been here for 5 years…which has happened almost by accident. There’s a saying in Aber that “If you’ve been here for more than four years, then you’re stuck…forever.” And while I love having a network of people who care for me here, I’m aware I need to move on. I want to make myself uncomfortable immerse myself in new things, surround myself by new faces and places, and fill the yearning in my heart to do something different. As an Artist, I crave new experiences. These experiences keep me feeling alive. I’m not a student, nor am I an adult with a career. I’ve found myself in a strange ‘limbo’ trying to find my way. I’m ready for the next move and to carve a career, it’s just not happened yet. I’m persevering because I want to do something that I love.
I’m reading a book called The Obstacle Is The Way by Marketing Genius Ryan Holiday. Now while I often am sceptical of these airy-fairy self-help books that centre on loving yourself… this has me instantly hooked. Holiday is not so much cut-throat, but extremely honest which means this book has become a manual for me in this time of ‘limbo.’
Holiday writes of an old Zen Proverb that tells of a King who is worried about the decline of his Kingdom due to the attitudes of the people. To prove his theory that his people had lost inspiration, a king had a giant boulder placed on the only road into his city. Then, hidden and perched on a hill, he waited to see what would happen. First, some merchants came upon the rock and said, “Well, this boulder is blocking our path. Let’s turn around and go home. No work today!” And they turned around and left. Next a group of soldiers came upon the boulder. “This rock is blocking our path,” they said. “I guess no one will need our services today”, and they turned around and went home as well. The king watched person after person continue to come upon the rock, see it as an impasse or excuse and turn and go home. This was until a lonely peasant came upon the rock. He was excited by the challenge. He first examined the huge boulder and tried to push it with all his might. He realized this would not work and began to think of other solutions. Then the quote from ancient mathematician Archimedes popped into his head, “If you give me a large enough lever and a fulcrum on which to place it, I shall move the world.” The old man was instantly inspired, and found a long wooden pole. He placed the pole under the boulder and using leverage, moved the boulder slightly. He repeated this process until the boulder was completely off the road.With his challenge finished, the inspired man was about to set off down the previously blocked path toward the city, but he noticed a bag lying where the boulder once stood. He looked around, picked up the bag and found inside a large amount of gold and a note. He carefully opened the note and read, “This gold is for you, since you know that great obstacles can lead to bigger opportunities.” The king, happy with the actions of this man, left his hiding place and went back to his castle with hope for his people.
When I read this proverb, the meaning was crystal clear to me. Things that I consider ‘obstacles’ such as the competitive job market, lack of experience, restlessness etc. has been a massive opportunity to develop and learn for myself. I’ve become patient and driven. Without these ‘obstacles’ I’d be less, not more. When I came to understand this, I’ve learned that the obstacle is the way.
Things are happening, as vague as that may be… I’m ready for my break. I’m waiting on the perfect chance to seize it…I’m on the path!
“If you want more, you have to become more” – Jim Rohn
Holiday, Ryan The Obstacle Is The Way, 2014.